Skip to main content

… And A Maid

November 2023
1min read


The indefatigable Mr. Howe also recalls another great epitaph, which will perhaps amuse the Latin scholars among our readers. It is a parody by Longfellow of the one Dr. Samuel Johnson composed for Oliver Goldsmith: “ Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit .” Longfellow called his, “Epitaph on a Maid of All Work:”


Hic jacet ancilla Quae omnia egit; Et nihil letigit Quod non fregit.

“It has been stylish, even during his lifetime, to laugh at Longfellow as a linguist,” concludes Mr. Howe, “but I think that translating ‘maid of all work’ as ‘ancilla quae omnia egit’ is a tour de force that Dean Swift himself could not have excelled.”

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate